Friday, April 08, 2016

Why atheists change their minds

Here. 

68 comments:

John Moore said...

People get tired of struggling against the mainstream. It's a big responsibility to have to figure out things on your own, so after a while you just want surrender to authority. Especially when you're old and sick, which is why deathbed conversions really happen.

Legion of Logic said...

Evidence for that, John? VR's post links to numerous other reasons atheists have switched, backed by evidence. Only fair to hold yours to the same standard. Testimonials of former atheists who said, as explanation for their conversion, that they were old and tired and didn't want to think for themselves anymore, will suffice.

John Mitchell said...

These are all plausible reasons for changing one's mind about theism.

Except, of course, 3 and 7.

'Change your mind about the gospels, hear about the conversion of Lee Strobel and read the wonderful books of N.T. Wrong"
'No, thanks.'

Cal Metzger said...

It is smug and vapid article like this that incline me to think that apologists don't understand, well, anything.

Cal Metzger said...

First line from Factor 1: "Reasonable atheists eventually become theists because they are reasonable; and furthermore, because they are honest."

This isn't argument -- it's just baseless accusation and disparagement, made to feel your garden-variety apologist better about himself.

Cal Metzger said...

From the article (my changes in ALL CAPS):

"Of course not all converts from SANTA CLAUSISM become FOLLOWERS OF CHRIS CRINGLE or even OBSERVERS OF OTHER MYTHOLOGIES. Some converts only reach a MEANINGLESS belief in SANTA CLAUS (an areligious position that SANTA CLAUS is “impersonal”) but the leap is still monumental; and it opens new, unforeseen horizons."

What dreck.

Legion of Logic said...

I find it hilarious that Cal, of all people, feels justified in accusing others of baseless accusation and disparagement.

Cal Metzger said...

Legion: "I find it hilarious that Cal, of all people, feels justified in accusing others of baseless accusation and disparagement."

By this I assume that you mean to insinuate that I routinely baselessly accuse others and disparage them.

Quote me doing that -- baselessly accusing and disparaging others (as opposed to pointing out, by referencing what they have written, seems inconsistent, hypocritical, or sanctimonious).

Probably the shoddiest thing done by some of the regular commenters on this blog is to accuse and insinuate that my comments have been debunked in some way, and to repeat it, without ever backing up their chatter. Victor's posts can be interesting sometimes, sometimes they're a train wreck, but it's the behavior of the Christian peanut gallery here that reveals the most about the intellectual rigor and honesty of your standard internet apologist.

planks length said...

Cal reminds me of Dr. Janice Lester in the Star Trek episode "Turnabout Intruder" (look it up).

Joe Hinman said...

9 of 9


Blogger John Moore said...
People get tired of struggling against the mainstream. It's a big responsibility to have to figure out things on your own, so after a while you just want surrender to authority. Especially when you're old and sick, which is why deathbed conversions really happen.

that is rationalization and source grapes because you have to constantly struggle to overcome the fact that your view is about 3% of world op. I wouldn't care accept you are denigrating my life and my thought I'm not going to put up with it.

I know I'm not any kind Alfred North Whitehead or anything but I have nothing to be ashamed of intellectually. my worldview is not based upon a need to conform If anything quite the opposite. My family drove Studebaker, I was an AFL fan, I was the only kid in my school who routed or the Chiefs in Super bowl 1. I worked in the McGovern campaign. I voted for Momdale. I do not mind being the underdog. My faithsi snot ased upon a need to confrm,

I thought my way out of being a Christin in high school and out of atheism and into a real relationship with Jesus in college.

I understand why you have to perpetuate the myth that belief is only about conformity and security. Because you can['t the fact that your world view is based upon spirutal death.

Joe Hinman said...

First line from Factor 1: "Reasonable atheists eventually become theists because they are reasonable; and furthermore, because they are honest."

This isn't argument -- it's just baseless accusation and disparagement, made to feel your garden-variety apologist better about himself.


why would you suppose that's any more galling for you than atheist triumphal bluster and BS like "there's no proof for your God" is for us?

Joe Hinman said...

Probably the shoddiest thing done by some of the regular commenters on this blog is to accuse and insinuate that my comments have been debunked in some way,


Only the one's that ZI go after


and to repeat it, without ever backing up their chatter.

both side are full of it. thi9s is all a lot of crap. Make an argument!


Victor's posts can be interesting sometimes, sometimes they're a train wreck, but it's the behavior of the Christian peanut gallery here that reveals the most about the intellectual rigor and honesty of your standard internet apologist

First of all I agree about some of them. Secondly you are one of the one's I feel that way about. ;-)

Legion of Logic said...

"Quote me doing that -- baselessly accusing and disparaging others (as opposed to pointing out, by referencing what they have written, seems inconsistent, hypocritical, or sanctimonious)."

"It is smug and vapid article like this that incline me to think that apologists don't understand, well, anything."

How about that?

lamer said...

"Quote me doing that -- baselessly accusing and disparaging others"

Uh, two posts previous, where you baselessly disparage all believers as the equivalent of adults who believe in Santa Claus?

At any rate, the roots in all those reasons were "honesty" and being "reasonable" and those are the exact qualities the new atheism requires left at the door - as we can see from Cal who reveals the most about the intellectual rigor and honesty of your standard internet atheist.

PoR is in trouble!

Cal Metzger said...

Legion: "How about ["It is smug and vapid article like this that incline me to think that apologists don't understand, well, anything.]"

The article is smug, and it's inconsistent, hypocritical, and sanctimonious. And it does incline me to think that apologists don't understand how to think rationally -- it's a virtual potpourri of outlandish and patently false claims ("Modern historical studies have left little doubt about what the best explanation is for the alleged postmortem appearances of the risen Jesus, the conversions of Paul and James, and the empty tomb: Jesus really was raised from the dead.") tossed with a high number of fallacies and seeped in unearned gloating. It's so bad it makes me mostly shake my head, wondering where to start.

I agree that my assessment disparages the author, and those who espouse that article, but don't you agree that smugness, inconsistency, hypocrisy, and sanctimony should be disparaged?

Do you really need me to point out the basis for my assessment?

lamer said...

"...don't you agree that smugness, inconsistency, hypocrisy, and sanctimony should be disparaged?"

YES, you rude, offensive, arrogant moron!

B. Prokop said...

One of the biggest purely intellectual problems with atheism as a worldview (there are far greater non-intellectual ones) is that the atheist must of necessity shy away from its logical conclusions like a hand avoiding a hot stove. Among these inescapable conclusions are:

1. MEANINGLESSNESS - "Meaning" is a product, not just of a mind, but of an objective mind. Anything else is just subjective "good feeling". And objectivity cannot emerge within a closed system. An external standard, against which to evaluate and measure something, is required.

1a. MEANINGLESSNESS (part two) - For something to be genuinely meaningful, it must be eternal. Otherwise, the moment it ceases to exist, it may as well have never existed. It is gone, and any significance associated with it, is gone.

1c. MEANINGLESSNESS (part three) - Meaning is contingent upon consciousness. Without a conscious mind to appreciate meaning, it simply doesn't exist. Is there any "meaning" to a rock falling from a ledge? Not unless there is a conscious mind to perceive it, and (more importantly) to understand its fall. (That, after all, is what meaning means!)

2. NO OBJECTIVE MORALITY - Just as the pitches in a baseball game cannot be objectively called by the players themselves (to do so requires an umpire who is not himself in the game), neither can good and evil be objectively judged without an Objective Judge - Someone who is not Himself a part of the physical universe. (And as Aquinas would say, "This Someone, we all call God.") Attempting to construct a godless objective morality is like the batter deciding which pitches are balls, and which are strikes.

3. NO PERSONAL EXISTENCE - In a purely physical, materialistic universe, human beings are nothing more than exceptionally complex arrangements of molecules and energy. What one perceives as "I" is simply electrical patterns in a meat machine. Break the machine, and the patterns cease.

4. NO LOVE, BEAUTY, PURPOSE, VALUE, IDEALS - At best these terms merely describe survival traits in an evolutionary paradigm. But to what purpose? The strict evolutionist hotly denies there being any purpose beyond survival itself. But strangely enough, he cannot say why "survival" has any value.

Whereas, the believer can say with confidence, "Jezu ufam tobie!"

Cal Metzger said...

lamer: "Uh, two posts previous, where you baselessly disparage all believers as the equivalent of adults who believe in Santa Claus?"

Um, it would be without basis if the analogy had no truck. But there are significant and undeniable analogues to both sets of beliefs. Also, I have a soft spot for Santa Claus believers, so it's not all disparagement.

Pointing out why a belief isn't respectable isn't the same thing as disparaging the believer. The believer may feel disparaged, but so long as the reasons for the belief not being respectable are valid then, well, the association is one that the believer chooses. If, however, the reasons for disparaging the belief are poor (hypocritical, inconsistent, etc.), then we we would be talking mere disparagement, which I agree is shabby.

Cal Metzger said...

lamer: "YES, you rude, offensive, arrogant moron!"

If you can't handle people pointing out where and how the reasoning that surrounds your beliefs appears ridiculous, and if not having good replies to this criticism makes you upset, then you should probably avoid online discussions.

Cal Metzger said...

Victor Reppert say he blames new atheists for poisoning dialogue about religion.

Then he links to an article that repeatedly calls non-believers dishonest, etc.

Hypocrisy much?

John Mitchell said...

"1. MEANINGLESSNESS - "Meaning" is a product, not just of a mind, but of an objective mind. (...)". And objectivity cannot emerge within a closed system. An external standard, against which to evaluate and measure something, is required."

Any complete description of reality is describing a closed system.
If there always has to be an external standard to it you are either ending up with necessary meaninglessness or its turtles all the way up.


"For something to be genuinely meaningful, it must be eternal"

Since Prokop's definition of genuinely meaningful obviously is eternally meaningful he has delivered a real gem here.


"Meaning is contingent upon consciousness."

So?


"Attempting to construct a godless objective morality is like the batter deciding which pitches are balls, and which are strikes"

Yawn.... um.... no.


"In a purely physical, materialistic universe..."

If this post's purpose was to address something related to atheism this is just a non-sequitur.



"NO LOVE, BEAUTY, PURPOSE, VALUE, IDEALS - At best these terms merely describe survival traits in an evolutionary paradigm. But to what purpose?"

Yeah, purpose but to what purpose ??



These evil clouds man...

B. Prokop said...

And right on cue, we get a response that beautifully demonstrates my point!

John Mitchell said...

"And right on cue, we get a response that beautifully demonstrates my point!"

That's feeble even by your standards....

John Mitchell said...

I absolutely love the way, when someone responds to Prokop's inane ramblings about atheism, he comes back, unable to defend himself, with some sophomoric statements that attempt to explain that the insights he benevolently shares with the other commenters are so truthyful that any critical reply can just simply involuntarily reiterate his precious points.

All this is delivered with the demeanor of the old wise Christian Saint B.Prokop who, from time to time, steps down from the mountain to educate the silly peasants and listen to their misunderstandings with a forgiving smile on his face.

He then pats himself on his back and waits for Ilion to return from his meth-dealer to join in to the eternal symphony called 'the irrational non-believer'

Victor Reppert said...

I would have to say that the article is rather tendentious myself, in that it asserts what is actually at issue between believers and unbelievers. Getting down to what's as issue between believers and unbelievers takes work, it's a lot easier to simply assume you are right and say that your opponents are just being inconsistent.

What interested me most in the piece was this kind of statement:

“When I went to college…I met smart Christians for the first time, and it was a real shock.”

Maybe I should be glad about the way many atheists portray Christians, because when you actually meet a few real ones who don't fit the sheeple stereotype, it's going to cause some cognitive dissonance.

lamer said...

"then you should probably avoid online discussions."

I usually do, especially with arrogant hypocrites like yourself!

Legion of Logic said...

"Do you really need me to point out the basis for my assessment?"

The problem would be that you treat your opinion as fact (which everyone is prone to do, not a criticism), but then use the new factual opinion of the article to smear people who disagree with you, while apparently also using its new factual status as a "self-evident" reason for not pointing out which portions of the article meet your description and thus justifying the insult against people who disagree with your take on the article - which you yourself said is bad form. The well hath been poisoned from the start.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Historical Study of the Bible led me to doubt the OT, and the NT as well after I learned how NT authors lifted OT passages out of context to use them as so-called "prophecies of the first coming of Jesus." And after I learned about the failed prophecies of the Son of Man's or the Lord's soon return.

Cal Metzger said...

Legion: ". The well hath been poisoned from the start."

I agree; the first sentence from the article Victor linked to, from the first of the eight "reasons": "Reasonable atheists eventually become theists because they are reasonable; and furthermore, because they are honest."

So, the article begins by declaring that atheists are unreasonable, and dishonest. And my pointing this kind of thing out is somehow poisoning the well.

Mkay.

Edgestow said...

So, the article begins by declaring that atheists are unreasonable, and dishonest.

It does nothing of the sort. Imagine a Venn Diagram (you know, the kind with overlapping circles). Start out with one big circle labeled "Atheists". Next, draw a circle within that larger one, and label it "Honest and Reasonable Atheists". Now draw an even smaller circle entirely within the second circle, and label it "Atheists who become Theists".

Once you've done that, you can see that all Atheists who become Theists are "Reasonable and Honest" but not all "Honest and Reasonable Atheists" necessarily become Theists. There is still a portion of their number who may remain Atheists.

So Cal's accusation against the author of the article is unfounded.

Legion of Logic said...

"So, the article begins by declaring that atheists are unreasonable, and dishonest. And my pointing this kind of thing out is somehow poisoning the well."

That is no worse than saying there is no evidence for God, that reality doesn't support theism, etc. The only conclusion from such a statement is that the one who said it thinks theists are unreasonable and intellectually dishonest.

Edgestow said...

I wouldn't want this bombshell to get lost in the conversation several below this one (about whether scientists who believe in design need to look for it), so I'm repeating it here:

The respected magazine Scientific American concedes that ID, (i.e., the idea of an intelligently designed universe) is "a legitimate scientific hypothesis" in the very first paragraph of the linked article.

nas lost said...

I always found Nick Bostrom's Ancestor Simulation Hypothesis weird, to say the least, because it does seem to me rather unlikely that a civilization capable of creating such a 'reality' would simulate war, disease, poverty, starvation, genocide etc just for the purpose of some breakthroughs in historical research...

You could possibly argue that they think they have created some sort of p-zombies and are oblivious to the fact that they have not... but thats still unlikely....

Edgestow said...

Oh, I totally agree - the simulation idea is bonkers. BUT, in bringing the idea up at all, the anti-IDers have shot themselves in the foot by allowing it to be labeled "a legitimate scientific hypothesis". Because on what possible basis could it be so considered, other than by the assertion that an apparently designed universe is a legitimate field for scientific inquiry?

nas lost said...

"in bringing the idea up at all, the anti-IDers have shot themselves in the foot by allowing it to be labeled "a legitimate scientific hypothesis"

I see the irony there.

I never understood the problem in the first place.
The Design-Hypothesis is just that, a hypothesis. The study of the evolutionary history of life can confirm or disconfirm it.
I don't see how D-H is not a 'scientific' hypothesis when the hypothesis of 'No Design' is completely scientific.
Sure, D-H can get discredited by the scientific process, as many people think it has been, but that does not make the hypothesis itself unscientific but simply wrong. Otherwise you end up saying that everything discomfirmed by later incoming evidence like the Steady State theory in cosmology was unscientific, as well.

Cal Metzger said...

nas: "The Design-Hypothesis is just that, a hypothesis."

This is news to me. So, what is the hypothesis exactly, and how could it be disproven?

Cal Metzger said...

Reasonable Christians eventually become atheists because they are reasonable; and furthermore, because they are honest.

Legion of Logic said...

"Reasonable Christians eventually become atheists because they are reasonable; and furthermore, because they are honest."

Peanut? More like the popcorn gallery, since the only useful thing that can be derived from this comment is entertainment.

"This is news to me. So, what is the hypothesis exactly, and how could it be disproven?"

Agreed. A scientific hypothesis must be testable. Not to say it isn't true, but not currently testable by science.

William said...

"So, what is the hypothesis exactly, and how could it be disproven? "

We can take an existing definition, by analogy, from systems theory. In systems theory, a design hypothesis is a prediction that a specific design will result in a specific outcome. A design hypothesis must:

1. Identify the designs provenance, e.g the theory, practice or standards from it is derived.

(In the case of multi-cellular life, this is biology.)


2. Provide a concise description of the design.

(Name your species :)


3. State what the design must achieve in a verifiable fashion.

(Reach the specific life form with a population of easily detectable size within known geologic time parameters.)


4. Clearly identify critical assumptions that support the hypothesis.

(Here, the details of the model, especially whether we require reproducible results as above, can be critical regarding whether we can accept a random genetic walk, directed only by current-generation selection pressures (not by the outcome intended) and constrained by the pace of selection and the pace of mutation and recombination, as the known means to the more popular alternative, an error theory of (pseudo)design hypothesis.

This means that in many ways the arguments for a design hypothesis in biology start to look very much like the fine tuning arguments in cosmology. By this, I believe that getting exactly our species on our planet is incredibly unlikely without either accepting an anthropic principle or accepting a design principle.

A design hypothesis need not be theistic: it could be that the argument would succeed in suggesting that some advanced technology wielded by another species might be responsible. Still, I'd expect most atheists at this blog to accept the anthropic principle.)

William said...

Note that an argument similar to the one above is detailed here:

http://www.jstor.org/stable/37419?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents


Cal Metzger said...

Me:"Reasonable Christians eventually become atheists because they are reasonable; and furthermore, because they are honest."
Legion: "Peanut? More like the popcorn gallery, since the only useful thing that can be derived from this comment is entertainment."

Which is my point, per Edgestow's objection -- that's why I took that sentence, the one I originally quoted from the article, and changed the word "atheists" to "Christians" -- to show that we end up with a sentence that accuses while pretending to explain. Which is why I think the article linked to in the OP was such offensive, apologist fluff.

Me: "This is news to me. So, what is the hypothesis exactly, and how could it be disproven?"
Legion: "Agreed. A scientific hypothesis must be testable. Not to say it isn't true, but not currently testable by science."

What is that, twice in one week we agree? One of us is clearly slipping. :)

Cal Metzger said...

Me: "So, the article begins by declaring that atheists are unreasonable, and dishonest. And my pointing this kind of thing out is somehow poisoning the well."
Legion: "That is no worse than saying there is no evidence for God, that reality doesn't support theism, etc. The only conclusion from such a statement is that the one who said it thinks theists are unreasonable and intellectually dishonest."

While I mostly agree with you (that we take it personally when our ideas or beliefs are dismissed), I think that one can (and should) make a distinction between saying a) someONE is unreasonable, and b) someTHING is unreasonable. But maybe I just take it for granted that we are unreasonable and intellectually dishonest about some things -- I think intellectual discussion is largely about identifying those things.

I would be more inclined to consider the article linked to in the OP if it actually explored how, for instance, "honesty" affects the transition from non-belief to belief. I think it's worthy of consideration, because I think that we have psychological motives behind our beliefs. But the article doesn't do that -- it just makes the accusation, while re-visiting some favorite snippets from the apologist archives -- that honesty and reasonableness are all that stands between those who identify the fallacies and falsehoods it cites, and those who don't identify its fallacies and falsehoods.

One thing I consider is this: If I were tasked with soothing the doubts of a group who suspected that the earth was a sphere rather than flat, I would write a very similar article to the one linked to in the OP. I would cite anecdotes of fellow believers, I would make false claims about the state of the facts, I would appeal to intuitions and emotions, and I would disparage the motives of those who disagreed. The article linked to in the OP uses all these techniques. Hmmmm.

Cal Metzger said...

William: "A design hypothesis need not be theistic: it could be that the argument would succeed in suggesting that some advanced technology wielded by another species might be responsible."

And this is the kind of thing that ID proponents always seem to say. But the question wasn't "What is a hypothesis?", the question was "So, what is the hypothesis exactly, and how could it be disproven?"

William said...

Cal,

Did you understand what what I wrote at what is stamped 10:07 above? Or better yet the article I gave a reference to?

if it was tl;dr then here's a short version, easier to disprove:

Note that I'm close to neutral about the hypothesis, unlike you, who I assume are hostile. So I don't have much of a dog in the game.

The design hypothesis says that life on our planet is the outcome of a series of events that are less likely to have happened purely by chance in the time frame they occurred than they were to have happened due to the actions of an agent which pre-existed intelligent life on our planet.

One might disprove it by showing that good genetic evolutionary models toward intelligent life in a predictable, reproducible way. So, show me one such, if you can.

Cal Metzger said...

William: "One might disprove it by showing that good genetic evolutionary models toward intelligent life in a predictable, reproducible way. So, show me one such, if you can."

Um, that's my question to you.

All you're doing is this predictable routine: If you can't tell me how to disprove my idea, then it's valid / scientific / correct, etc!

Don't say, well, someday, somehow, in a way that isn't described yet, my hypothesis might hypothetically be disproven.

Do the hard work. Propose the way that the design hypothesis could be disproven. What's being tested, and how would we know if it was disproven. That's not the job of the skeptics, that's the job of ID proponents.


Legion of Logic said...

Cal,

Fair enough. And I blame lack of sleep and the position of Mars relative to Neptune as to why we have agreed twice ;)

William said...

If I tried and failed to disprove this hypothesis using a simulation of evolution, what would it prove to you?

Edgestow said...

I don't know why Cal is demanding that William demonstrate that ID is a scientific hypothesis. After all, Scientific American has already admitted that it is!

I mean, look! The magazine even has the word "scientific" in its title! How much more evidence do you need?!

Cal Metzger said...

William: "If I tried and failed to disprove this hypothesis using a simulation of evolution, what would it prove to you?"

What hypothesis?

I'm not trying to be difficult, but I really don't know what your hypothesis is -- what is the test, how would you run it, and how would you know it was disproven?


William said...

I've stated the hypothesis already. If you cannot see it where it was written, that is an indication to me of how you would handle further information.

Cal Metzger said...

William: "I've stated the hypothesis already. If you cannot see it where it was written, that is an indication to me of how you would handle further information."

The nearest I can tell is that you think this is a hypothesis: "The design hypothesis says that life on our planet is the outcome of a series of events that are less likely to have happened purely by chance in the time frame they occurred than they were to have happened due to the actions of an agent which pre-existed intelligent life on our planet."

Do you think that's a testable hypothesis?

If you think that's a testable hypothesis that's an indication to me of how much you actually understand the difficulties facing ID regarding efforts to present itself as a mode of scientific inquiry.

William said...

Cal, I do understand the difficulties, and they are huge. ID is indeed a very hard hypothesis to test. But not full on "untestable" I think. At best we come up with:

1. Low probability for intelligent life arising by chance in the universe as far as we can see, but (from the anthropic priciple) we are here anyway. See the reference I gave above on this.

2. No other material evidence for the remote past actions of a pre-human intelligence here has been seen. (This may or may have been expected, depending on the specific agent hypothesized.)

So, we have low odds versus low odds, and this fails to convince. So, the hypothesis is in fact testable, but not with any satisfactory results. No paradigm shift is likely here.

Cal Metzger said...

William: "So, we have low odds versus low odds, and this fails to convince. So, the hypothesis is in fact testable, but not with any satisfactory results."

Well, I think your first "test" is really just an observation followed by an inference. Also, I did look at your reference, and I don't see anything like a test there -- am I missing something?

I think your second "test" is an observation, although I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "material evidence for the remote past actions of a pre-human intelligence," although I'm guessing you mean aliens. I'm not sure that one could run any test that would disprove aliens, though, and that's a problem for that kind of ID hypothesis.

William: "So, the hypothesis is in fact testable, but not with any satisfactory results."

I don't think that anything you've mentioned is really a hypothesis, although I do think that looking for something (even it it's not well-defined) is a start.

Shackleman said...

While the article has an obvious bias and agenda, it wasn't offensively so. I found it was mostly a fair summary and lists many of the stops along the way in my own journey out of atheism.

As a related aside...as a reader of this blog for what must be over a decade now, I can say that in the early days, I found this blog very helpful in exploring and learning, challenging and growing. Sadly now, deeply thoughtful and challenging discussion has given way, more often than not, to schoolyard sophomoric chickenshit (forgive the expression). Sad. (There are still gems on occasion....which is why I continue to lurk and read this blog....always glad when Ed Babinski makes a rare post---he continues to challenge me even now)

My advice to anyone who is still searching and seeking...keep up the hunt. Have the courage to challenge your beliefs with thoughtful honest introspection and openness. If you're truly interested, invest the time in reading the *best* stuff from your "opposition". You might be surprised, like I was. And remember....

True skeptics are skeptical of the skeptics.

Good luck in your journey....

B. Prokop said...

"True skeptics are skeptical of the skeptics."

Sounds even better in Latin:

"Verum dubitantibus sunt dubitat de dubitantibus."

William said...

Cal:

"I think your second "test" is an observation"

If you mean, here, a test that is by definition NOT an observation, please specify what you intend by "test."

Some everyday observations can be considered tests. For example, whether my watermelon seed sprouted this in the mound last week can be tested by observation. So, by what I mwan by test, we did have a testable hypothesis, though the results are not at all definitive.

The actual genetic simulations referenced in the article were done over 20 years ago, and support what I've said. The only way to make life reproducibly evolve at the pace it did in such a simulation is to "cheat" by making all future beneficial mutations (those not selected for in the current population but needed in a future population) "stick" in the model-- something that does not generally happen in the real world.

Victor Reppert said...

I too have become disappointed in the level of discussion here over the years. I think I underestimated the power of ideology, and the differences between New Atheist discussion and other types of discussion. For some atheists, arguing about God isn't debate, it's war, and all's fair.

Victor Reppert said...

I think there is limited utility to discussion when one or both of the parties is operating from a zero-concession standpoint. If one's opponent seems bound and determined not to admit legitimate points on the other side when they are made, then I think you the right to suspect that you might be wasting your time. We have to be willing to "blow the whistle" on the excesses of our own side.

Shackleman said...

@Dr. Reppert,

It's not just your blog. The internet these days is rife with pithy snark, and all seem to be at war for the sake of it. What happened to *humility*? I think that's ultimately what is deeply lacking in society at large today.

Few people, it seems, are interested in deep thought or engaging in challenging discussion. They'd rather simply prove how much smarter they are than everyone else, and things devolve into sniper vs. sniper. Gotcha vs. gotcha. Insult vs. Insult.

I'd blame the likes of google and twitter, but that would just make me an old fuddy-duddy. Maybe, at the ripe old age of 40, I *am* an old fuddy-duddy.

"Back in MY day!!!!"

"Get off my lawn!!"

:-)

But seriously....the problem is bigger than just the New Atheists. It's a disturbing trend everywhere it seems.

FWIW, there's still plenty of the good stuff on your Blog, Dr. Reppert. There's just so many more weeds to sift through to find it than there used to be. Yours is still a blog worth visiting regularly. I can't say that for many others.

B. Prokop said...

RE: Shackleman's comments.

The Insults, vitriol, and downright venom are a huge reason why I swore off political partisanship many months (years? I hope time isn't passing that quickly!) ago. Websites that deal with politics are even worse than those concerned with philosophy or religion. (We see few actual death threats on Dangerous Idea.) I just refuse to believe that half of the US population is "evil" rather than, at the very worst, mistaken.

What is truly evil is regarding people who merely disagree with you "evil". (Now many beliefs may well be evil, but that in no way makes their adherents so.)

Shackleman said...

@B Prokop,

I couldn't agree more. I'm glad you're still active on this site though...you still bring a lot of that good stuff I spoke of.

Cal Metzger said...

William: "If you mean, here, a test that is by definition NOT an observation, please specify what you intend by "test." "

A test is, well, an experiment -- it's checking to see if the generalities of your model apply to particular instances that haven't been investigated yet. That the coin landed heads up is an observation. That the next toss will be heads is a test.

William: "Some everyday observations can be considered tests. For example, whether my watermelon seed sprouted this in the mound last week can be tested by observation."

I think you are confused about a fairly simple concept. The watermelon seed having sprouted is an observation. Planting a seed to see if it grows is a test.

William: "So, by what I mwan by test, we did have a testable hypothesis, though the results are not at all definitive."

What was the hypothesis? Did you investigate to test it, or are you making an inference based on observations and not doing any investigation. There's a difference. Inferences can't be disproven. Tests disprove inferences (formed into hypotheses, directed toward an investigation that jeopardizes the inference).

William: "The actual genetic simulations referenced in the article were done over 20 years ago, and support what I've said. The only way to make life reproducibly evolve at the pace it did in such a simulation is to "cheat" by making all future beneficial mutations (those not selected for in the current population but needed in a future population) "stick" in the model-- something that does not generally happen in the real world."

Since you still won't provide me with a quote or direct link to the thing you're citing I can't comment.

William said...

http://about.jstor.org/jstor-help-support/register-myjstor-account

B. Prokop said...

I truly believe that in the long run, this whole battle over Intelligent Design will amount to nothing. Why do I think that? Because it's happened before.

In the mid 20th Century, atheists were terrified by the idea that the universe may have had a beginning, because everyone (prior to the 1960s) believed that a beginning implied a Creator. Thus the popularity of Fred Hoyle's Steady State Cosmology, which persisted long after its sell-by date, solely due to the fact that it promised an infinitely old universe, and therefore no Creation. The "Big Bang" was ridiculed as a Catholic attempt to sneak in "creationist" (though that term had not yet been invented) theology into science. It didn't help that the Big Bang was first proposed by Catholic priest and cosmologist Georges Lemaitre.

But with the discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation, which pretty much proved the Big Bang theory, the atheist opposition basically moved the goalposts, accepted creation as a fact, and moved on to championing the idea that the universe could essentially create itself (See: Stephen Hawking and Lawrence Krauss).

In like manner, contemporary atheists are terrified at the idea of design, because it implies a Designer. But I guarantee you, were design to be similarly proven at some point in the future (as was the Big Bang), the goal posts will simply be once again moved to say that the universe could have designed itself.

Jezu ufam tobie!

planks length said...

You know, in light of atheists' track record of moving the goal posts when their "scientific" argument crumbles, dare we speak of an "atheism of the gaps"?

B. Prokop said...

It's stuff like this which helped me some time ago to renounce all form of political partisanship. You get guys like Ilion who blame all the ills of the world on "leftists" while people like Joe Hinman seem to think that the Throne of Satan is somewhere within the RNC. The reality is that both "sides" are blinkered. They see only what they wish to see, and ignore the just concerns of their political rivals. (I won't say "opponents" because, despite what the partisans insist, both right and left honestly desire the best for our country).

I choose to follow the path of my good (and sadly missed) friend, the late Joe Sheffer (one of the wisest persons I've ever had the honor to know), who styled himself a "middle of the road extremist".

Jezu ufam tobie!

Cal Metzger said...

Ironic: When a post asks "Why atheists change their minds,' and a commenter points out that atheists change their minds when the evidence changes, or new, good evidence emerges. This ability to change ones mind when the evidence changes is then called, "moving the goalposts."

Isn't there something about specks of dust in others eyes and splinters in your own somewhere?

planks length said...

Here's a story of one atheist whose mind was changed simply by listening to the Word.